Inbound marketing, a term coined by the founders of Hubspot, now delivers 54% more leads leads than traditional, outbound methods (Hubspot). In Europe we are surrounded by other countries who speak several different languages, and who, just like us want to engage with and read content in their own language, naturally. Back in 2012 a study by the CMO Council reported that 41% of marketers set aside at least 30% of their budget for localized marketing campaigns. Today, as the number of target markets are increasing, localization is the key to success.
With 27 million pieces of content being shared on a daily basis, it’s enough to make your head spin; no wonder most marketers spend so much time reviewing translated content before hitting “publish”.
In the wise words of Chad Pollitt; “publish, broadcast and pray. It is basically about creating content, optimizing it for search engines and broadcasting it via social and email – rinse and repeat”
It all boils down to two things; entertain or inform. There’s a lot of information out there which makes us second guess ourselves, thinking that it is more complicated than it is, which can harm our overall strategies in the long run as we obsess over planning and delay the doing.
So, what should we consider in our plans to take over the world? Here are some points to think about when planning a global content strategy.
Why are you creating a global content strategy?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we all know that the first point of call in any marketing strategy is establishing your goals. However, asking “why” you’re creating a global content strategy is important because you need to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Are you jumping on the global content bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it? Do you genuinely have the resources to give it your all, as you do in your current market, or will this just be a “bit on the side”?
It is vital you treat your international markets with the same care and thought as you do your own. Instead of seeing international expansion as simply a driver of “extra revenue”, it should be viewed as they key to your company’s future. If budget is currently an issue, make a plan on how to work around it in a way that won’t result in doing things “by half” and then giving up.
Who is your target audience?
I don’t mean you have to pick four or five target audiences and start building a robust social media and blogging strategy around them. This is where you define which of your already established target audiences will be most easily reached globally. Once you have decided this, pick a region, demographic or even a city and make your strategy as targeted as possible.
Look into things like, what interests people of that area? Is there a pattern regarding the type of products these people typically buy or search for? This will show you what your audience wants to know more about, in order for you to… yes you’ve guessed it, either entertain them or inform them.
How do they communicate with customer service for example? This will be useful in giving you an idea of the type of language you should be using in your content.
Making your content as targeted as possible will allow you to save on marketing translation costs that aren’t driving any return and focus on what your customers actually want to read.
Don’t overexert your resources, be realistic
It is OK if you don’t have the budget, we don’t all have the content marketing power of Coca-Cola. What’s not OK is overextending the valuable resources that you do have. Make wise choices instead of panicked, impulse decisions. You may sell to France, Italy, Spain and Germany, but you don’t have to set up a Facebook page for every country that you happen to have prospects in and start blasting out content in every language.
A study by Curata last year showed that a lack of time and resources for content creation was a challenge for 50% of respondents. So, if you’ve established that there is potential for your niche in a certain international market, take it a step at a time and wade in gently. It’s better to do things small and well, than trying to imitate your current strategy, only to realise you’re in too deep.
Choose your channel
Do you know which channel is likely to work best for distributing your content?
Around 29% of the global population are active on the most popular social media platform in their region, but don’t forget about the less popular social media channels… with a lesser audience, distributing on less popular channels might allow more room for your content to penetrate to a more significant consumer base.
In terms of translating your social media content for each channel, have a look at the type of language used on each platform and see how it may differ in tone, length etc.
Prioritise what gets localized
Localization of marketing materials can prove expensive if not planned effectively. Part of managing a localization budget is deciding what gets translated and what doesn’t. When trying to drive business in global markets it’s easy to get the urge to translate as much as possible, which can result in a lot of wasted money.
Do some testing by sending out localized campaigns to a select few target markets. Gather up your data and compare which content resonated most with which market, this will be a good insight into where to invest first. By keeping these response rates in mind, it will also be a good basis for creating high performing content for that market in future.
If you are low on resources, hone in on one market at a time; when you establish a strategy for one, you can then start another.
Make sure your reviewer is helping you and not hindering your efforts
A review by a native speaker is essential for any content that is being published for the consumer, especially marketing content. In a recent post, I discussed the different ways in which translators and reviewers can “disagree”. Believe it or not, having a reviewer who is not experienced enough or without a precise job description can make the review process cumbersome and confusing, resulting in unnecessary costs. Having a consistent brand voice includes the type of terminology used in your content, so make sure the reviewer is aware of the type of feedback they should be giving and not just making changes because they feel they have to. Read more about how to streamline your preview process here.
Create and maintain your style guide and “do not translate list”
Just like you have a style guide in your current content marketing plan, outlining the kind of language your brand favours and the kind of words, phrases and jargon to stay away from, you need to create something similar for your content in other languages. Similar to a glossary, a style guide and “do not translate” (DNT) list will allow you to review how you want your brand to be portrayed in other markets; this will essentially be your translators’ “bible” for every piece of content they translate.
Before embarking on your localization journey, try sitting down with your translator and your reviewer to discuss the things which should be included in your style guide such as grammar, punctuation, “banned” terminology and intended global brand perception. If things are done correctly from the start, this will save on costs and will avoid any unforeseen branding mistakes… remember, once it’s out there, it’s difficult to take it back.
If you only remember one piece of advice from this post remember this… take a step back, put your headphones in to drown out all the noise and focus on your company, your goals and your customers. Once you do this, taking your content global will make more sense and seem a lot less scary.
Haven't quite reached the localization stage yet? Download our handy PDF for tips on adapting your written content for a global audience.